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Its early September here on the Court.  Being in Northern California, we won’t see Autumn for another 6 weeks or so.  There are a few things that we get to deal with at this time every year.

The cats begin to grow out their heavier fur.  Especially the Maine Coons.  The

The Big Guy in full winter fur.

The Big Guy in full winter fur.

picture shows The Big Guy last January, at the peak of his ‘furriness’.

Come April the cats shed a lot of the insulating fur and begin to battle with the fleas who arrive just about the same time the cats are busy shedding those tufts of hair and their skin is tender from the repeated brushings.

It takes 6 to 8 weeks to bring things to a stable state again.  The cats are ‘doused’ with flea control meds but only after they have their annual bath or shower (some of the Court inhabitants prefer a shower while others prefer the wash tub in the garage).  The goal is to clean the skin with a shampoo that has aloe or some other soothing agent.

The Big Guy in summer fur

The Big Guy in summer fur

The house is also treated.  The rugs are shampooed and sprayed with a flea control agent.  The sofa, chairs and mattresses are also treated.

If all goes well, the flea problem is solved for the time being.

During this period the cats complain, incessantly, about the irritation, the bites, the upset stomach (yep, going to see a few hairballs).  The cats will pick at their food, argue amongst themselves and, in general, be most difficult to be around.

When over, the cats are generally quiet until the winter sets in.  Well, they complain about other things, like rainy days, the need to burrow under the blankets at night and the list goes on and on.

This year, probably due to the dry spring and cool summer, we’re seeing an increase in flea activity.  The Cats have been complaining for the past few weeks about the bites and the itching.  We’ve seen them on the comb when we brush their hair and have seen them on the blanket where the cats sleep.

So, here we go again. The beds, chairs, sofas and rugs have been treated.  Several of the cats have gone through the shower and have been treated with the flea meds.  They are still complaining as the skins is raw from bites.  Brushing is not a lot of fun as they are still ‘wearing’ summer fur and there’s not a lot of fur.

Hopefully this round of battle against the fleas will be over with soon; Missey has made it clear that she is unhappy and it is probably my fault.  Precious is so beside herself that she passed up on a fat lizard that was out on the sidewalk this morning.  And, most telling, the Big Guy has been hanging  out with the racoons and possums in the  old factory behind the house. Seems he prefers their company to the complaints of the Oak court Cats these days.

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Missey recently celebrated her 15 birthday!!  Not knowing for sure her actual birthday, we (the Vet, my daughter and I) decided that Missey was born around July 25, 1998.Image

According to the Purina web site, she is (in human terms) 77 years old.  She is a Norwegian Forest Longhair, distant relative to the Maine Coon.  Originally Mr. Worf’s room mate, she had a rough time after he died in 2006.  (That’s Worf and Missey on the blog header, she was about 2 years old at the time.) Since then she’s become an indoor cat, only stepping out for an occasional walk around the back yard.

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This picture taken in 2000, a much younger cat then, she spent most of her time in the house but would go out back to chase the occasional squirrel who wandered into her territory.

These days she spends most of her time on grooming and personal hygiene (a polite way of saying she does such a wonderful job of cleaning herself that her production of hairballs ought to be listed in  the Guinness Book of Records).  No longer does she race about the yard in pursuit of a squirrel; she now sits placidly on the couch when squirrels come into the room, looking for peanuts.

The other Oak Court Cats remembered the occasion in their way; Precious brought in a lizard, the others pretty much stayed out of her way as she has a bit of a temper now.  Instead of the usual flea “juice” on her back, she permitted us to give her a bath using a kitty shampoo with flea control.  In her younger years there would have been considerable bloodshed; this year she complained about the indignities being forced upon her but didn’t tear anyone up.

Happy Birthday Missey!!!

It’s been a while since I’ve added a post to this blog; I was a bit distracted.  The Oak Court Cats, however, weren’t distracted; they’re still here.  So, what have they been up to?

The queen is still going strong.  Missey is a few months short of her 15thCold morningbirthday; that

would make her 74 if measured in feline years.  She moves a little slower on cold mornings; her preference is to spend the morning

hours on the couch near the heater or taking a nap in a sunny window.

Missey is the matriarch of the chowder and will swat at any of the other cats if they get in her way.  About once a week she’ll whack Blutto in the head. Blutto is a full grown Maine Coon, weighing in at 25 pounds and standing a good 4 inches taller than she.  She has to reach up to hit him and he’ll lower his head just a bit, realizing she is the alpha.

Blutto enjoys the winter; doesn’t mind the cold nor the rain.  With his winter fur, he’s about as

big as a raccoon.  I noticed tonight that he’s starting to shed; the house will be carpeted with a layer of cat fur for the next 2 months.

The big Maine Coon coBlutto 2013 Feb 01continues to be the friendliest cat on the court; haven’t seen him go after the squirrels nor the blue jays that congregate in the yard.

The picture was taken the other week as he slept on the bureau; having found a comfortable spot.  He sleeps a good 15 hours a day; much of it in the yard, under the pine tree.

Most days he can be seen patrolling the court with Converse, the polydactyl stray.  Not too sure how old he is; looks to be 4 of 5 years old.  We named him Converse because of his black and white feet that are remarkably similar to a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers.  Converse shows up at 5:45 I the morning, spends some time having breakfast with Blutto, takes a hit from the catnip bong then crashes in the corner for a few hours.  Not too sure where he goes in the afternoon; he comes in for a bite around 8:00 then heads out for the night.  I think he has a few homes in the neighborhood where he can get a meal and a warm bed.Converse 2013 Jan 01

I’ll share updates on the other 2 members of the chowder later this week.

Its late spring here in Northern California and that generally means we are in the dry half of the year.   The Oak Court Cats are ready for the nice weather and usually head out at sunrise, coming back to the house for a snack or a drink.  Fatty and the Big Guy will spend 10 hours a day out in the back, patrolling the yard, keeping track of all comings and goings in the neighborhood and, oh yeah, a lot of sleeping in shady spots.

Last Wednesday, however, we had a weather front come through and leave us with close to a half inch of rain.  The rain comes very late in the season; not expected by either the weatherperson or by the Court Cats."Where is my umbrella?"

As can be seen in the picture, the Big Guy wasn’t particularly happy.  I took the pictures around 4:00 in the afternoon, when he usually goes out on the afternoon patrol.  He sat there at the back door for a hour, waiting for the rain to let up; he needed to be out there but wasn’t too excited about getting soaked.

The rain finally stopped after dark and he went out for a while, working his way through the yard, the neighbor’s yard, the front yard and several other places.  When he finally came in he was quite wet.  The grass is long and his coat is shaggy (hasn’t started to shed yet).

He was, however, quite satisfied that he managed to spend a little time out side before the end of the day and found a quiet corner of the bed and went to sleep.The Big Guy is not happy with the rain

The cats were confused, worried and unsettled.

It started out as a regular day on the Court.  The old man was up at 6:00, filled the bowls with canned wet food and topped off the dry crunchie-munchie bowls.  (To the cats the old man was the one who took care of them most of the time, the person they would go to when ever something needed to be dealt with, like a hair ball).  It was understood that he was here to wait on them.

None of the court cats paid attention when the old man put some clothes in a bag and went off in mid-afternoon.

That night the old man didn’t return home.  None of the cats paid attention as there was still food in the bowls.  Nor was he there in the morning to let them out onto the Court at 6:00.  In fact, one of the other inhabitants of the hose opened the door at 7:30; much too late.  Something was wrong.

Food was put out, although not by the old man and not the way they preferred.  Missey complained that her bowl wasn’t filled and placed on the right side of the food mat.  In fact, it wasn’t filled at all; it wasn’t there.   She would have jumped up on the counter to look for it if she could still jump that high.  The Big Guy was happy as long as there was plenty of food; he’d eat it off the floor if need be.

Later that night, at the appointed hour, (they had a schedule to follow for everything) they went into the rear bedroom expecting to curl up against the old man and sleep.  He wasn’t there.  “Come to think about it”, noted Fatty, “I haven’t seen the old man all day”. The cats were worried but went to sleep anyway.  Surely the old man would return in the morning.

But he didn’t.  In fact, he didn’t come back that day or the next or even the next.  He’d been gone for days and the cats were not at all happy.  Missey has been so upset she left a very messy hairball on the bed and wouldn’t sleep there (the old man would clean up these things).  Precious was so worried that she stayed out front until way after dark, hoping the old man would return.

“He must have been kidnapped by dogs.  There’s no other reason he hasn’t come home” she said when the cats gathered in the kitchen that night.  “No, I think not. He is bigger than dogs, he wasn’t kidnapped” said Fatty.  He continued “I think he ran away.  Sometimes people do that.”  The Court Cats grew quiet when Patty stopped speaking.  A real possibility existed in that the old man was not happy with the Court Cats and left to find other cats to live with.

On the 6th morning the other person put the food out, opened the door to the Court and went about his business.  He stopped long enough to give Missey a scratch between her ears and to rub Fatty’s belly then went on his way.  The Big Guy and Precious argued with each other about the mysterious disappearance and blaming each other for the disappearance. “I think you made him angry, always growling and hissing at the rest of us” argued the Big Guy.  Precious retorted that she wouldn’t need to hiss and growl if he had left her alone.  Missey sat on the corner of the sofa and contemplated life without the old man, “who is going to clean my messes up?”

A sad, angry and confused chowder of cats they had become.

That night, just before the appointed hour of sleep a car door slammed out on the court.  Precious was first to pick up the scent, “The old man!  I sense him!”, and she ran out the door to the front of the house.

The old man was coming up the walkway when she got around the front of the house.  “Hey!!  Where have you been?” she shouted at him.  Of course all he heard was some meowing as people can’t understand nor speak cat. She paced back and forth in front of him, blocking his way into the house and continuing to demand an explanation.  He bent down and scratched her ‘tween the ears and, all of a sudden, she didn’t care where he was, as long as he was home.

Once into the house he went to the rear bedroom and got ready for sleep.  The Court Cats were glad to have him back and decided to forgive him for running away.

The next morning the old man was awake at preciously 6:00 to feed and clean up the cat’s mess.  The Court Cats went out on early patrol as they had for years and life quickly returned to normal.

The cats tried to be nicer to the old man and didn’t try to get him out of bed early. Missey made an effort to be in the kitchen before tossing up the next hair ball.  Even the Big Guy tried to quit scattering crunchie-munchies when he ate.  Everyone seemed to be settling down into old routines.

Except Precious.  She had picked up the scent of another cat on the old man’s luggage.

Thought I’d update on a previous post.  It’s been over 2 months since the Little Princess passed away and her brother is still looking for her.

Most mornings he’s at the back door at 6:00, wanting to go outside.  When he finally gets out he’ll sit on the top of the steps, looking out across the yard toward her favorite spots.  This goes on for maybe 2 hours before he slowly comes in, snacks then curls up on the bed where she’d spend her mornings and sleeps.  In the evening he’ll want to go out at dusk and repeats the process.

We’ve tried to make things a bit easier; scrubbed carpets and pillows where she used to be so that he wouldn’t be reminded of her scent. We also rearranged chairs and pillows differently so he’d not look in the old spots.  Not working out; he continues to wait every morning and evening, hoping the Little Princess will come running up the side walk.

Now, he’s not wasting away or anything like that.  A recent trip to the vet reassured us that he’s healthy and just as heavy as before.   The gray fur ball (or boulder)  has his preferences (“yes, I like that salmon shrimp flavored snack but don’t give me the crunchy cheese snack, please”) (“what, the water bowl is empty, Oh the humanity”) (“That’s my sleeping spot, you can sleep on the floor”).

The other court cats are just fine.  The Queen is battling the winter cold by refusing to go outside, even when taunted by the squirrels scampering about the kitchen.  The predator awaits the warm weather; she’s not been foraging for a while and I’m sure the lizard population is growing.  And the big guy is enjoying the weather.  His coat is full now; he now resembles a small bear as he trundles across the back yard.  He was a bit depressed in early January when a neighbor moved out and took their little black and white kitty with them.  A week later the new tenants moved in and he can now be seen patrolling the neighborhood with their black cat in the mid afternoons.

All is well on the court.